Even the NYT is trying to make New York seem terrifying

26 Aug

The NYT ran this article one year ago this week, and I recall my sense of outrage was keen.

Reading it again, so much of it still runs counter to, how you say, THE TRUTH. My feeling has always been that a Certain Type of Person gets a secret, twisted rush from telling people how hard city life is and how put-upon we all are — the subtext being, by golly WE CAN TAKE IT, but you, my friend, sadly cannot. And all the writer’s sources seemed to be That Person. As a journalist and real live human living in New York, I think it’s bad journalism. Behold:

• That NYC is a place where kindness regularly renders a person “flummoxed.” I promise that’s not the New York you just moved to. “[N]ice is a relative thing,” the writer later claims, countering the interviewee’s statement with her own (more correct) viewpoint.

• The writer also claims “many” feel being “not wealthy” or well-connected leaves them alienated. What kind of claim is this? Who is many? (‘Many’ happens a lot in journalism, by the way — the Times is far from the main culprit.)

• She got a guy to say he was afraid cab drivers were going to murder him. Well hot damn, now that’s good color! — but it only frightens, furthers stereotypes and suggests the NYC of the ’80s is the NYC of now.

• “I thought I’d bring my niceness with me,” she said, “but already I feel an edge developing. Because you need to, to deal.” Um, to deal?

• “I’ve definitely become the pushy New Yorker who has to get around everyone on the sidewalk,” she said. OK, OK…touché.

• “The city abuses you, and you just have to abuse it back.” Oh, so highly quotable! — and a healthy life philosophy if there ever was one. George Herbert says living well is the best revenge. I like that better.

• Use of the phrase, “this terrifying city.” I don’t agree with the strong wording, nor am I routinely scared shitless by my chosen home. Can’t remember the last time someone told me they were.

• The idea of “becoming a New Yorker,” as this article suggest that such a checklist includes being rude, selfish and unaffected. Now that’s terrifying! — not to mention bad PR for New York City. Doesn’t the experience of moving here and living here lead to positive things or bring out good qualities in anyone?

I’d love anyone else’s thoughts here. Fire away! Nicely.

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One Response to “Even the NYT is trying to make New York seem terrifying”

  1. Lauren @ LifeStyler 08/26 at 10:52 am #

    I agree with a lot of the points the story is making, and I don’t think they’re trying to scare people into not moving here — except for that “terrifying city” comment. That was lame.

    But I agree with the thought that NY is alienating at first. I certainly felt it when I first moved. I didn’t know anyone, and it took about a year or two to build up a good, close network of friends.

    And for the woman saying she “developed an edge”, it doesn’t really seem like she’s talking about needing an edge for NYC life — sounds to me like she’s talking more about her job working in an abrasive work environment.

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